Monday, February 18, 2008

Getting What I Want

I just saw a chilling video from Black Women Vote! Apparently its not new. Its on study done with black children giving them two dolls a white one and a black one. They must chose which one they think is the "good" doll and which one is the "bad" doll. Sadly, the choice they made reflected a need for better black images.

Is it impossible to have my cake and eat it too?!

I am married to a WM. But I want my children to be happy about both their heritage. I definitely want them to be proud Jews, comfortable in their skin. Its like life is like a constant battle. Before children, I was battling it out for myself.

For myself, I wanted to be happy, with a good marriage partner. I wanted to be God-fearing, doing His Will. And I wanted to find a place to live where I can be comfortable doing the things I want to do. Most everything else, was not worth a fight (to me).

I thank God, I pretty much am there. Except for my mental battle against the "overly religious" in my neighborhood who tend to judge everyone --and nobody passes! LOL I have to fight constantly telling myself that what I am doing is within halacha (Jewish Law) even if they take things to the extreme, I don't have to feel that my apparent lenient views are any less according to the law. Aside from that battle, I am happy.

But soon after children come into the picture. *Whew!* a new battle has begun. The fight for their minds. In Israel, its a bit more different in that there is pressure to send the kids to gan (pre -pre nursery school) at the rip old age of 2 1/2! How can I influence them properly if they are out of my hands that early?!

I have kept them home -despite pressure from eeeeveryyywhere! - one advantage to having a husband who can understand and knows where your coming from. But thank God, my husband is "teachable" lol. Even now I have an almost two year old that I feel like i'm "hiding" away in my home.

But I am their only mother and so I MUST fight. Hard. I want them to have images in their lives that give them a very positive view of who they are.

I remember once my husband came home a bit shocked. I asked him what's the matter. He replied that it was very near the time to pray (Muslim men pray five times a day; Jewish men pray three times a day; women pray all the time! lol) and he didn't know where to go. So he ducked into a school for boys and prayed in there. On his way out, he saw a picture of "Moses" (they had a picture of Moses, okay?!) and in the picture he looked as European as you can possibly get, complete with old time European noblemen clothing (shtreimel and bekesha). What a shock! That they should be teaching the children that even back in Moses's days, people were Europeans.

I am so scared. I've got to look long and hard for my kids. I have to find a school with a good compromise of diversity and religiousity.

Add to that, i've got this annoying habit of meandering into racist blogs who talk about "gotta stay black!" what it means to be black, etc. I know in my mind that there is nothing to be ashamed of being black. Its a beautiful thing, despite what the media machine and all their cohorts are trying to promote. It just sometimes doesn't look like racism to me because its seemingly pro-black.

I've got to fight.

*end of rant* lol


Grata said...

Wow, that is a tough one with the kids. True, you can not let the minds of your kids be taken over by someone else. I feel your struggle, its a tough one. I too have serious reservations about the pro black message. I am beginnning to think that blacks need not organize as a group but rather concentrate on the development of individuals and this would start on an individual or family level.

I suspect the backclash to a pro black movement is an increase in white supremism and racism.

h sofia said...

That is a pretty unique situation you're in. I'm sure there are other Jewish Black couples in Israel, but I've just never heard of any!

How to instill pride in your children without also instilling arrogance or contempt ... that is tough! I think the best way is to model it in yourself and your own relations with other people. Studies have shown, children pay more attention to what their parents do than what their parents tell them.

foreverloyal said...

I feel your pain. I'm trying to raise muslim kids that don't feel less authentic because they are not arab or pakistani.

Miriam said...

Hi Foreverloyal,

Would it help if they knew there were indonesian muslims and Sudanese? I am embarrassed to admit that I have resorted to YouTubes to expose the kids to more ppl of color, etc.

May we both have success!

Miriam said...


The pro-black to me is seeming more and more racist and seems to insist that one must stay in a box regardless of what's best for the person.

h Sofia,

There are other Jewish Black families but we are all very scattered. Once upon a time I made a resolve to visit them more often (they have more kids than I do, so I figured I'd do the traveling) but it just becomes too expensive. Plus all my kids are under 3 and I don't have a car (public transportation. Aaaaaahh!!)

And that's another thing. I have to work so hard to keep my pride and level of confidence at a reasonable level.

Anyway, I'll stop rambling.

Thank you for your comment!

Kylopod said...

I'm disturbed by the fanaticism in Israel (and for the moment, I'm not directly affected by it, except when my friends come back "brainwashed" after a year in yeshiva), but I'm not sure anachronistic depictions of Moses in a shtreimel or fedora are so terrible. A lot of books for children do that, and while I don't necessarily defend the practice, it's a way of simplifying things--how many people are familiar with what the dress back then looked like? It's sort of like when American movies taking place in ancient times or in a foreign country have the characters speaking English.

Miriam said...

Hi Kylopod,

True but this shtreimel wearing Moshe Rabeinu has ramifications if the children are never told that this is only a simplification.

Some people really buy into it. They can't even imagine where sephardim came from.